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A pregame interview with Tim Wakefield

A pregame interview with Tim Wakefield

Over the years we've heard all kinds of knuckleball theories about wind blowing in, wind blowing out, indoors, outdoors, 3:00 in the morning, et cetera. Is there any real absolute for you in the center of all that stuff?

TIM WAKEFIELD: No, there's not. The best it works is in the dome, obviously, because of the controlled atmosphere. But other than that, no, to answer your question.

What's your biggest concern about the lay off?
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TIM WAKEFIELD: I really don't have a concern. I've been working hard with John between the last time I threw, which was the last game of the season here, threw a couple sides, played a lot of flat groundwork during the ALDS and have thrown two sides since then, so I feel like I'm ready to go.

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How difficult has it been through the years to find a catcher who can catch your knuckleball? And how has it been working out with Cash this year?

TIM WAKEFIELD: Obviously I was with Doug for eight years, so it was difficult finding a catcher. And when Doug was let go, Cashy stepped in and picked up right before Doug left off. He's done a great job so far this year, and I look forward to working with him tomorrow night.

Considering your success and longevity, why aren't there more knuckleballers? And do you know of any young ones that might be coming up that might be any good?

TIM WAKEFIELD: The difficulty in that is it's a hard pitch to throw, obviously. Not a lot of guys can do it. A lot of guys before me have done it, Charlie Hough, the Niekro brothers, Candiotti, guys like that.

I was lucky enough when I came up to have Charlie and Tom Candiotti both in the league at the same time, so I was able to talk to them.

Since then there's been a couple guys that have tried. Obviously we have a kid in our Minor League organization, his name is Charlie Zink, that he came out and pitched a game for us here against Texas. He's pretty good.

R. A. Dickey converted to a knuckleball. He did a good job for Seattle this year. Hopefully you'll see some more come through. Charlie Haeger for the White Sox. I was in the minor leagues with him, so I've worked with him a little bit. He's done a great job down there. Hopefully you'll see some more.

Like you said, to answer your question, because I throw a knuckleball, I think I've been able to last a long time, been able to do multiple roles for the organization, and hopefully these guys can come in and fill my shoes one day.

Can you tell early in the game if your knuckleball is going to be in command or controlled, or is that something that you get a feel for later in the game?

TIM WAKEFIELD: There's two sides to that question. There's been times where I've come out of the bullpen thinking I was going to throw a no hitter and I've lasted two or three innings. So I try not to use my pre game warm ups as a barometer of how I'm going to pitch. I've learned that over the past couple years.

There's times where obviously you don't try for this to happen, but you lose the feel for it in the middle of an inning or something and then all of a sudden something clicked and you regain it. You've seen me dominate for four or five innings and then one inning I throw a couple spinners that come back at me hard, and then all of a sudden I get back in the groove. There's no set barometer that I look at to dictate whether I'm going to have a good one or not.

Whether the knuckleball is going good or bad, are you constantly changing grips, or do you keep the same grip regardless?

TIM WAKEFIELD: No, I hold it one way. I've held it that way for 15 years now, and that's one grip that I use.

The change is in my delivery, or finger pressures. Obviously my mechanics, my margin of error is very small because I have to try to throw it without any spin. If I come out of my delivery at all, the ball is going to spin out of my hand, and that's when it gets kind of ugly out there. But Cashy and John Farrell know my mechanics very well and are able to make adjustments from pitch to pitch or from inning to inning.

You were telling us I think in spring training that when you pitched the ALCS against Cleveland last year, the next morning you couldn't lift the bedspread off you, your shoulder was hurting so much.

TIM WAKEFIELD: Right.

Did you know then that you wouldn't be able to pitch in a World Series, if they made it that far, or did that develop over time?

TIM WAKEFIELD: No, that developed over time, obviously. I told you guys that I was in so much pain that I couldn't lift the covers off me after the ALDS game, and I was hoping to try to go to the trainers and get some treatment and get some massages and hopefully try to make it better by the time the World Series started, if we had made it.

And once we obviously beat Cleveland in Game 7, I still hadn't recovered as much as I would have liked to have, and unfortunately we had to make the decision to stay off the roster the whole Series last year.

What's the weirdest thing you've ever seen your knuckleball do? Is there one that stands out where you just thought, I can't believe the pitch did that?

TIM WAKEFIELD: There isn't one thing that stands out for me. There are some times where it makes me laugh. The hitters' reaction, hitters' facial expressions towards me kind of makes me laugh, but there isn't one thing that really sticks out.

Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports.
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